McGahn Is A No-Show. Now What?

Ken AshfordCongress, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Nadler in the clip above (from The Post):

“We will not allow the president to block congressional subpoenas, putting himself and his allies above the law,” Nadler said. “We will not allow the president to stop this investigation, and nothing in these unjustified and unjustifiable legal attacks will stop us from pressing forward with our work on behalf of the American people. We will hold this president accountable, one way or the other.”

According to The Post article linked above, five members of Speaker Pelosi’s leadership team are pressing to start an impeachment inquiry to get the documents and testimony the Trump administration is refusing to provide. Pelosi “declined to endorse the idea,” the report says, citing concerns that opening an impeachment inquiry would undercut other investigations and lack of broad support for the measure.

Ranking Republican Doug Collins then followed up by stating the basic GOP-backed lies about the Mueller report: that it found “no collusion” (it didn’t) and “no obstruction” (it didn’t) and that the whole hearing was a waste of the committee’s valuable time.

Republicans then demonstrated their outrage over this “circus” and “total waste” by refusing to agree to adjourn the meeting and voting unanimously to keep it in session. Democrats voted them down, and it was over. 

Trump continues to stonewall all inquiries no matter how much he loses in court. The bad habits of a lifetime of using the “simple math” of the cost of lawsuits to stiff small businesses he’s cheated will not work with federal courts or with Congress.

Not that he won’t try. Unlike cheated contractors, Congress may not run out of money to fight Trump in court (nor tire of beating him repeatedly). Trump is betting again on simple math, on Congress running out of time ahead of the 2020 election.

While fighting it in courts may be inevitable, many Democrats are calling for impeachment hearings, if only to ensure that they get documents and testimony. But Speaker Pelosi thinks this is wrong-headed, and plays into Trump’s hands. But it may not be her call for much longer. Here’s CNN’s latest reporting on the rising tensions among House Democrats:

“House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler discussed with Pelosi the advantages of an impeachment inquiry in terms of adding weight to a court case, according to a source with direct knowledge. Nadler, whose committee has been on the front lines of investigating the findings from within special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, broached the topic with Pelosi because several members of his committee have been pressing to open an inquiry …… The tensions displayed behind closed doors underscore the growing divide within the caucus about how to proceed in the face of White House resistance to all its demands, as Pelosi and some of her top confidants argue that acting with too much haste would be a gift to their political foes while a growing faction of Democrats — that now includes several high-profile and high-ranking members — push them to take a tougher stand against what they call a lawless President.”

To be clear: This isn’t an open rebellion just yet. And that is a testament to the power and fear that Pelosi retains among Democrats in the House. Because, under any other leader, the floodgates on impeachment would have already burst open.

The political problem Pelosi is trying to navigate is a decidedly thorny one — made even more complicated by the Trump White House’s total refusal to cooperate in any way with the ongoing investigations being led by House Democrats.

On the one hand, Pelosi knows that many within her caucus believe that Trump has already done enough — according to the Mueller report — to be brought up on impeachment charges. And that there are those, like Nadler, who view the House playing the impeachment card as part of a broader attempt to bolster and backstop the broader legal fight between Congress and the executive branch over what the former is entitled to and the latter is required to provide. (The legislative branch won a major victory — albeit an early one — in that fight on Monday.)

Plus, the base of the party favors such a move — 69% of self-identified Democrats said so in a May CNN poll — although they are less unified in support of impeaching Trump than they were last year, when 80% favored impeachment in a December CNN survey.”

I believe we have come to a time of impeachment,” influential New York freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday. “I think that at a certain point, this is no longer about politics, but it’s about upholding the rule of law.”

On the other hand, Pelosi knows that even if the House were to impeach Trump, it would die in the Republican-controlled Senate, where there are no signs that support for the President is cracking. If anything, support for Trump among Republican senators has grown strong since the release of the Mueller report.

But Dems are ready to go, if only quietly. Roll Call contacted 23 of the 24 Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee and asked them where they currently stand on impeachment. They ascertained Rep. Eric Swalwell of California’s opinion by looking at his Twitter feed. By their calculation, a majority of these lawmakers believe that impeachment may be necessary if Trump doesn’t comply with their requests for documents and witness testimony.

Yet, few only a couple of exceptions, their responses are very on-message and carefully calibrated. They express extreme reluctance to talk about impeachment but refuse to take it off the table. They all seem to agree that Trump cannot defy them with impunity. Most of them are willing to say that impeachment might be forced on them if the administration continues on its current course. In this, they are following the lead of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.